Foglas Nunucq and the
Case of the Rampant Broskers
Outside the Wapping Meccano Ballroom, a seedy hang-out of assorted young pinko ruffians, improxicables and other general riff-raff, there was no sign of master detective Foglas Nunucq - nor of his irritatingly enthusiastic assistant, Damp. This was hardly surprising since they were, at this precise moment in time, returning hotfoot to the moribund metropolis after spending an exceedingly exuberant two weeks in the homely environs of Mrs Stebbins' Barf Bed And Breakfast in bodacious Blackpool.
Mrs Stebbins was world - famous for her accommodations - provided generally for a clientèle of doddery, senile old buffers like crusty crooner Ken Morecombe, but occasionally for super-heroes like Foglas Nunucq.
Foglas was bronzed and well-rested after his fortnight's inactivity lounging around in armchairs, deckchairs and a hurdy-gurdy collection of paff-chairs. Damp's bucket and spade showed signs of heavy use and his largely irregular knees were sand-stained beneath his Tyrolean Lederhosen.
"Ah, the pleasures of vacances", blurted Foglas from beneath his candy-striped boater, "corks, screws, lummy. Bristol University."
Damp neither offered reply - nor removed his index-finger from his favourite nostril.
Within the confines of the Lounge Bar of the Bofors Gun And Giblets, licensee Mr Bursley was dropping cigarette ash into his customers' foaming pints of Old Pecker. All of a sudden this burst of activity was abruptly replaced by a distinct lack of it.
Damp's bucket and spade
Foglas Nunucq stood on one leg outside Dobbins And Xah - that famous Regent Street gentleman's outfitters with a reputation for a generous cut, impeccable gabardine macs and colourful Maurice Onions ties. Across the street, in the shadow cast by a giant Turkish news vendor, Foglas' energetic young helper, Damp, browsed through a copy of The Daily Frog and blended blandly into the scenery like a roll and butter.
It was at this precise and absolute moment in time - this speck of dust from a grain of sand in the hour-glass of the planet's progress, that Ken Morecombe turned up and spoiled everything. It was hopeless. Foglas had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach - not only was his cover blown, but he would also be forced to engage in jaunty conversation with this dreadful Morecombe chappie.
"Ul-lul-lul-lul-la," began Morecombe predictably.
"Where have you been, Ken? Blackpool?" enquired Nunucq reluctantly. Morecombe babbled on.
"Ah yes, Blackpool. We sat down on the Prom. Then we had a sandwich, and at three o'clock we went to have a bet... ul-lul-lul-lul-la."
"You caught some sun, then?"
"Aye. Yes. Well, it must have been in the eighties. Across the top of my head. I'm sixty-two years of age and I've never... One eye was nearly closed."
"Goodbye, Mr Morecombe."
"I think I'll buy some bananas."
With that he was gone. Stumbling off into the evening with the sun glinting off his Saint Michael plastic pinny.
Damp was at his master's side with one bound and Foglas recounted every dreadful detail of the Morecombe saga. A largely unremarkable interregnum imposed itself insidiously upon the intrepid interlocutors.
"Monk's fridge, Foglas," exclaimed Damp haplessly, "that nice Mr Morecombe has gone to buy some bananas! We must warn him immediately of this potent peril!" Damp vanished like a fart in a knackers yard, leaving Foglas somewhat nonplussed and decidedly sleepy.
"I think I'll go home," he thought wearily. He went home.
In the chandaliered opulence of Luigi's Salle à Manger in the Hôtel de Barf, guests were being announced upon their arrival at the evening's little fonction...
"Ron and Mrs. Dog-do......"
Meanwhile, back in Foglas Nunucq's palatial Pimlico pied-à-terre, the telephone began to creak.
"The telephone's creaking," said Damp helpfully.
Foglas, who was dozing in his favourite armchair like a condemned building, roused himself unwillingly and lurched towards the wretched contraption in a haze of bad language and red carpet-slippers.
"Whhhhhaaat?" exploded Nunucq.
Foglas' reaction caused Damp to divert himself away from his reading (currently it was The Guinness Book Of Yaw Mait's Favourite Shaving Stories) and strain his ears to discover what was afoot.
"Sniffing," blustered Foglas, "an airport...... sniffing?"
Foglas replaced the receiver. A look of horror spread across his craggy visage like crunchy peanut butter and jelly.
"Orly Airport is sniffing," he reported matteroffactly.
"Oh no," thought Damp, "it's crossed the channel! Only a miracle can save us now!"
Foglas put on his slippers.
In the Lounge Bar of the Bofors Gun And Giblets more drama was about to unfold. Mr Bursley, chummy licensee of the aforementioned establishment, squinted behind a haze of cigarette smoke at the near-empty room. A customer placed an empty glass on the bar.
"Thank you, maestro," said Mr. Bursley.
an empty glass
The morning after the Orly outrage Foglas Nunucq visited his local laundrette. The time had come again to attend to his smalls and he found the steamy atmosphere conducive to profound ponderings.
Damp meanwhile had gone in search of Ken Morecombe. Ken was wandering vacantly around pushing his trolley, which was empty apart from a rather disconsolate sandwich box and an unsigned snapshot of Pancho Kidney. In his mindless search for bananas, Ken was treading the murky depths of dire danger! The curse of the Sniffing Airport! A used handkerchief never lies!
But then! Within a twinge of total disaster Damp's flocculent ferreting unearthed the blotchy old buffer. Ken was standing on a chair in the fast lane of the North Circular Road at Neasden waving a pair of Marks and Spencer blue serge winter combinations at the unrelenting stream of Yumbo Yets droning their way to Heathrow Airport. Indeed, it was Heathrow, with typical British stiff upper lip, which alone in the world had refused to give in to sniffing. Damp realised that this crooning cretin was about to spoil everything......
There was Morecombe. Arms flailing. Thrusting a well-used paper bag skyward. Tunelessly but boisterously singing "Rule Britannia! Ru-ul-lul-lul-lul-la Britannia." This dreadful assault could be heard all the way to Northolt Swimming Baths. Indeed, those encamped under the hot air vent of the aforementioned establishment were heard to utter "Uuh? Uuh? What's happening, guys?"
Pancho Kidney rolled over muttering "lenght, lenght."
All of a sudden Foglas Nunucq, master detective and saviour of the world arrived on the scene like a warp of herrings!
Foglas Nunucq, face the colour of an endangered macaroon, turned to Damp crisply.
"He's gone bonkers," he said, the words spilling out like a freshly-cut piece of Czechoslovakian Cheddar. Damp stopped twitching suddenly and adopted a studious pose. After the passing of several minutes, Damp's thoughts were on the point of vocal expression. He inhaled deeply.
"I think we're fimshed," sighed Damp, the words issuing slowly like a smithy's anvils.
"Fimshed? Fimshed?" hurtled Nunucq, steam puffing from his ears, "what do you mean, fimshed?"
a well-used paper bag
©2000 The Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain